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Union Candy (part 18)

 
Joe Spivey's picture
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Finny hadn’t actually missed the bed check. She had managed to sneak into the dorm while the Matron and the duty staff person were checking the boys’. It wasn’t even the fact that she had still been wet from the shower that gave away that something was amiss. What had given it away, even to those standing at the ends of their beds on either side of Finny, had been, the smell. A quick shower might have gotten most of the ‘not mud’ off but to get rid of the smell was going to take time, soap and friction. On top of that, this hadn’t been Finny’s first time being caught having been in the sewers.

It was the resulting interview with Matron half an hour later and Finny’s carefully constructed answers that had led to the sentence of two weeks of Jankers. As far as Finny was concerned, that was that.

Then Joe had arrived later in the morning and, curious, Finny had nonchalantly carried the bucket to the short corridor outside Matron’s office and found a patch of floor to work on. The conversation behind the door pretty soon devolved into an argument, and then a row… Finny had slunk away. Being around angry adults was to be avoided, especially when your name kept cropping up.

After Joe had left the building via two slammed doors and a profanity laden trail of cigar smoke. Finny had been called into the office and informed that her two weeks of jankers had suddenly become three.

Things got even more interesting the following day when the Mrs. Joe arrived.

Once again, Finny’s bucket found itself plonked down on the already clean tiles outside the Matron’s office. This time the talk behind the door had gone on for longer. Tea had been sent for, and cookies. The conversation had wandered like a bee in a summer meadow, only sometimes touching on the subject of Finny and her misdemeanours. Then it would float off to land on fashion or politics or children or other things before coming back again and again to the orphanage and Finny. Eventually, though, the subject had turned to Joe... And stayed there.

Outside the door, Finny had strained to hear, anticipating raised voices, but also eager to learn any titbits about her boss. What she had got, however, was mostly hushed voices, giggles and lots of “Oh I know!”

Without realising it, Finny had been slowly dragging her bucket closer and closer to the office door. Then the voices had stopped. A couple of seconds later the door had opened and Finny had almost strained her neck looking up into the stern face of Matron Maisy.

Finny climbed to her feet, drying her hands on her dress. She looked all around her, wiping her nose on her arm.

“Yup. That sure looks clean enough now.” She took a step backwards. “I’ll err. I’ll go and get started on those stairs now. Should I, Miss?”

Matron Maisy folded her arms and leaned against the door jamb.

“That would be a good idea Finny. Always best to leave some of the pattern left on my floor I think.”

“Yes, Miss.”

The Matron watched Finny, both hands lugging the heavy bucket, stagger off down the passage way. The ginger head glanced back just once and then disappeared around the corner. Maisy smiled, pushed herself upright and went back into the office.

“Now then. Where were we? Would you like more tea?”

Some time later, Finny had once again been summoned to the Matron’s office. Her three weeks of jankers, it seemed, had now become just one… Which was good, but confusing.

The following evening, Finny was scrubbing the back stairs. She had two flights to go before she could have arrest and scoot off up to the dining room to eat. What would be left would be cold and probably unappetising, but, Jankers can’t be choosers.

In the dining room, Casper was eating and waiting for Onetooth to join him and Worms. He looked over his shoulder to see what was keeping Onetooth and frowned.

Boys aren’t the only ones who can be bullies. Girls are quite good at it too, very good in fact. Some would say probably even better than boys because girls can also get inside your head in a way that boys don’t seem to be able to do. A single remark from an accomplished girl bully can ruin your day in a way that all the dead arms and swirlies just can’t. In short, girls can be really mean.

So, the girl currently talking to Onetooth, and backed up by her two ladies in waiting, gave Casper cause for concern. The girl was Bethany Ambrose, or ‘Queen Bee’ as she liked to style herself. Sweet sixteen was only halfway right, although she was very pretty.

Casper looked around for the dining hall staff lady but it was apparent that the ladies in waiting had expertly positioned themselves to block her view of anything that might be going on. Casper was just about to create some kind of distraction to attract the staff lady’s attention when he saw that he didn’t have too after all. Onetooth was coming towards the table and Queen Bee and her entourage were already leaving the room.

When Onetooth elbowed his way onto the bench, Casper leaned over the table.

“What did Queen Bee want?”

Onetooth shrugged.

“Nothing.”

“What did she say then?”

“Nothing. She just wanted to know where Finny was.”

Comments

Sang's picture

((I'm so glad Finny only had to do one week of punishment after all <3))

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